Because you’ve always wanted to swing a big damn hammer.
Last time on Super Hero Goals I covered how to bulk up like the Incredible Hulk himself. Today I’m talking about a double whammy of a superhero, Thor. Thor is what industry insiders call a triple threat, he’s a mythological god, a comic book superhero, and an awesome name for a golden retriever. Thor rules because he’s a Viking badass who swings a hammer around to defeat everything from interdimensional god-beings to communists. We could all stand to take a lesson from Thor and use his Viking persona to design a Thor-based workout that will get all medieval on our asses. I’m talking about swinging around maces, smashing tires with sledgehammers and going full berserker. Let’s try some super medieval workouts and remember when you grab your sledgehammer, “Whosoever holds this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”
MACE TO THE FACE
If you want to emulate one of the greatest comic book warriors of all time then you should train like some of the greatest warriors of all time. It’s rumored that some of the fiercest warriors that Alexander the Great (who conquered like, the world) faced were the hulking Hindu fighters in northern India. These dudes trained with giant, oversized maces, usually a thick wood rod with a heavy stone attached to one end as a way to increase their fighting prowess and strength.
You can tap into this millennia-old method of training today by getting a steel mace designed specifically for this type of workout. The mace workout improves grip, back and shoulder strength as well as activating core and stabilizer muscles. Grip strength is going to be a recurring theme in the “Thor Workout” because, if you can’t hold on to Mjolnir while you’re flying through the spine of a frost giant, then what are you even doing? Check online for retailers selling maces as well as examples of mace workouts. Even the lighter maces can produce an intense workout.
GET A GRIP
There are some extremely practical reasons that grip strength is super important to your workouts other than holding onto a magical war hammer while you cruise in the air next to Iron Man. Grip strength improves form on a lot of weight lifting exercises, increasing your ability to lift heavier safely. Being able to comfortably handle the weight you’re lifting aids in your mental confidence and control over the weight. It also has numerous real-world applications as the vast majority of tasks requiring strength in our day to day lives also depend on having a sure, powerful grip. Imagine getting your biceps as big as your head and having to ask someone to help you open a jar of pickles. “Whosoever opens this jar of pickles, be he awesome, shall possess the sandwich of Thor.” Sorry, Thor. This chicken salad on rye is rightfully mine.
IT’S HAMMER TIME
Now we’re really getting to a Thor-style workout. Beating the living hell out of something with a giant hammer. This is a work out now. How great is that? Thanks, internet! Who wouldn’t want to come home from a long day of boring office meetings, idiot bosses, and petty All-Staff emails to just wail on a giant tractor tire with a sledgehammer while imagining yourself battling a dragon? I’m betting that feeling trumps head-shotting dudes in the latest Call of Duty by a mile.
Sledgehammer workouts are conditioning exercises that use the swing of the hammer and the force of impact to train your muscles in both endurance and strength. Not only do you have to wield the sledgehammer and learn to bring it down on the tire in a forceful and efficient manner but you also have to train your body to control the rebound from each strike. This strengthens your forearms, stabilizer muscles in your upper body and of course, your grip. The common advice online is to grab a 10 – 15 lb sledgehammer and focus on simple, controlled attacks at the tire. Also, for sure play the Basil Poledouris Conan The Barbarian Soundtrack while you do this.
CHOPPING WOOD, CHOPPING CALORIES
We’ve gone over maces and hammers, why not throw something equally Viking into the mix? An ax, baby. Chopping wood is a great way to build core strength and at the end of the day, you also get to relax by a giant fire which is about as Viking as it gets. Double points for downing a flagon of mead while you stare into the fire plotting the defeat of your sworn enemies.
Splitting wood is a full body exercise. You’ll use your legs and glutes to drive the power of your stance, your swing strength will come from your back muscles, specifically, the latissimus dorsi and your arms will need to stabilize and control the ax as it strikes and gets back into position. All the while your core will be engaged to keep you powerful and accurate, which means you can chop your way to a six-pack. I bet you didn’t think your ab workout could look so manly, did you? This workout has a mustache on its own chest hair.
FARMER WALKS, MUSCLE TALKS
Thor and all real Vikings can carry loads of heavy stuff. One of the best ways to improve forearm and grip strength and activate numerous stabilizer muscles across the entire body is through what is called a “farmer walk”. To perform a farmer walk, just grab a couple of heavy dumbbells and walk across the room with them. You’ll notice immediately how much this engages your grip and forearms but you’ll also feel it everywhere from your glutes, lower back, shoulders, even your legs are getting a workout from the increased load as you walk. When I do these, I imagine I’m carrying a massive sword in one hand and a shield in the other to feel like a roadie for Thor’s Warriors Three.
Unlock your inner warrior god with your workouts. Bring Thor with you to the gym, or your yard, or wherever you do your Viking mayhem (probably don’t show up to a public park with maces, axes, and sledgehammers). If you can look in the mirror after your workout and think to yourself, “Man, I bet I could wield Thor’s hammer,” then you definitely earned your cheat day. Thou hast earned thine crispy chalupas! Feast heartily in your Viking victory!